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Regrets of Retiring Too Late
Old 09-06-2015, 08:35 AM   #1
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Regrets of Retiring Too Late

I have been doing a lot of research on retirement lately. I could probably write an entire encyclopedia by now...

I have read that one of the biggest regrets of retirement, is retiring too late. They wished they retired earlier. I understand that regret if someone works longer because they do not have the financial ability to retire, and wished they could have retired earlier.

I also understand the mentality of people that work until 67+ and wished they left the workforce earlier, after all, the time remaining is greatly diminished.

There is always the OMY syndrome, which I am in now (303 days left...). I do think it puts a final cap on me ever having to worry about any finances. And it will provide a much better lifestyle than I live now. I am sure others see their OMY that way too. I am already wishing I retired earlier, and I am not yet retired…

Of the retirees here that could have retired sooner than they did (~55 or younger), do you wish you pulled the plug earlier??

What did you learn after you retired that would have impacted your decision to leave the workforce earlier, if you knew it?

How much earlier would you have left?
FIRE no later than 7/5/2016 at 56 (done), securing '16 401K match (done), getting '15 401K match (done), LTI Bonus (done), Perf bonus (done), maxing out 401K (done), picking up 1,000 hours to get another year of pension (done), July 1st benefits (vacation day, healthcare) (done), July 4th holiday. 0 days left. (done) OFFICIALLY RETIRED 7/5/2016!!
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:16 AM   #2
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Not sure if my situation is applicable to your inquiry. I waited until 60 because while I did not need the bump, there was a 20% penalty in pension if I jumped before then. My career journey was generally enjoyable (not to say there weren't many frustrating stress filled times) until the last two years or so. But I stuck it out until the pension had matured.

After 4 years I have no regrets. I'm enjoying retirement, although at 60 it wasn't all that early. What I do realized is that I'm glad I went when I did to make the transition while still healthy. I still have days when I'm stumped as to what to do but there is never a time when I wish I was still working. The thought of doing what I did, now, makes me ill. I'm done.

I think we're all different and when to go is just a personal choice. However, in my mind playing the OMY card when there are things you want to do can end in the tragedy of not being able do those things. I think the need some of us have to be absolutely positive we'll not run out of money can be a real problem. I sort of suffered from that but now realize it's not a problem (3% and still accumulate savings every month). Just returned from a 9 day cruise up the New England coast to Halifax, and heard from friends we were with about market gyrations. I was sort of "meh." That's a long way from where I was 4 years ago.

Some probably couldn't be comfortable RE with a 2% WR. So do they work til 75 and miss opportunity to do things? Or RE and agonize that they may run out of funds (as unlikely as that is.) It's all making choices you can live with and hopefully enjoy life. For me, the BS bucket got full, the money was there, and I just got out.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:23 AM   #3
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I left earlier than most (age 46) but late for me. The w*rking world had long before become an absurd, brutal prison. Switching j*bs didn't help. So my last eight years or so of w*rk were a terrible, filthy slog. I wish I'd been able to retire before that slog began, but I couldn't afford it.

Nothing I've learned since retiring has made me wish I'd done things differently, other than getting a clue and saving and investing earlier so I could check out earler.
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:03 AM   #4
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I took an early retirement "preview" by taking a year's sabbatical in 1990 at age 40. That year made me realize how wonderful it would be to be financially independent and be able to continue the sabbatical indefinitely . Finances were not quite there yet so that made me redouble efforts so that I was able to actually ER at the end of 2002, age 52.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:13 AM   #5
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It's easy to say one has retired too late - in retrospect. Many of us stay in an unpleasant work situation for an extra few years because of the *possibility* that we will run short of money in later years. When those later years arrive and we find ourselves with plenty of money it's easy to second guess that choice.

It's just a version of the classic problem of making just enough to die broke (assuming no desire to leave money to heirs). If you still have money when you die it means you worked too long, but most fear the consequences of going broke too soon more than those of extra time spent at work during the "good years".
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:16 AM   #6
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Not entirely applicable to you but I worked with people at the end of their life. I retired working at a cancer care facility. I saw some people regret that they devoted most of their life for other people, chasing money, feeding their egos, etc, then they were diagnosed with a deadly cancer. I planned to retire at 60, but I was finally able to quit at 64--- and I was so happy to get out of there.
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Old 09-06-2015, 01:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Senator View Post

Of the retirees here that could have retired sooner than they did (~55 or younger), do you wish you pulled the plug earlier??

What did you learn after you retired that would have impacted your decision to leave the workforce earlier, if you knew it?

How much earlier would you have left?

I was able to retire at about 50 but enjoyed my job and the people I worked with so my plan was to retire at around 58-60. Things changed at work so it wasn't as enjoyable. And family situations changed that I wanted more time to be part of. So I retired at 55.

If I had realized how much I enjoyed retirement, I might have thought a bit harder about not retiring at 50. Not sure if I would have jumped then or not but certainly would have given it a lot more consideration.

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Old 09-06-2015, 02:26 PM   #8
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Back when I started at the #14 Fortune500 Congomerate the plan was to retire with over 30 years at age 55. Several ownership changes and "what pension?" later I plan to pull it off before 60. Wish I went sooner.
Took SS at 62 and hope I live long enough to regret the decision.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:37 PM   #9
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I retired at 55 with no regrets about retiring earlier. In fact I hadn't planned to retire at 55 until the last minute. Actually, I'm glad I didn't do a lot of advanced planning. It would have driven me crazy to spend a year or two counting down the calendar. As it was, the last 3 months were the slowest months of my life anticipating leaving.

Four and a half years later still no regrets.
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Old 09-06-2015, 03:31 PM   #10
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Retired at 54 and could have retired about two years earlier had I knew then, what I know now. No regrets and have had a great 10 years +, being blissfully retired and doing whatever I want.
"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Ezra Solomon
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Old 09-06-2015, 03:34 PM   #11
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So I retired way back on Jul 27, 2015, and I've got to say so far it does not suck too badly!
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Old 09-06-2015, 04:00 PM   #12
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I fully retired at 42 to pursue my personal interests (wife doesn't work either).

After 3 years of retirement I've started to take on PT consulting gigs because the money is good and I like contributing still to a team effort, I guess.

I still spend most of my time on personal pursuits, though.

As an ultra - early retiree, I don't have any regrets because I always have the option of a second career or going back FT, if I get bored.

It is much better than retiring later and not being able to get those years back.

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Old 09-06-2015, 04:32 PM   #13
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I could have retired at 48 but stayed on because I enjoyed the work and worked with good folks. It was a "I can't believed they're actually paying me to do this!" type of job, at least for me. The worst part of it was having to get up a 4:30 AM but I was mostly used to that. So I stayed on four more years. But traffic in that area near Washington, D.C. was horrible and I was very tired of that, and it was getting harder to get the employer to keep up with changes in training, equipment and software, all expensive. So I pulled the plug.

When I retired my net pay actually went up a little bit.
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 09-06-2015, 04:39 PM   #14
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Retiring too late?

Just the opposite... we had no business retiring early at age 53... It was because of a health scare. Thirty one years of full time w*rk after college and marriage in 1958, and retirement in 1989. November of this year will mark 26 years of retirement.
Wish to have retired earlier?... Had never even considered retirement at that time. It was just a chance. At age 53, with the possibility of not making it to age 54, lots of soul searching and number crunching. A tight squeeze to be sure, but the safety net was age. If there were problems, given reasonable health, between age 53 and 62, the ability to go back to earn enough to put bread on the table.

A different time, and with far, far less than a million dollars the planning worked out well, and we have both remained unemployed and quite happy. Now, with a shortening time horizon reasonably secure.

What did you learn after you retired that would have impacted your decision to leave the workforce earlier, if you knew it?
Not the answer you'd expect, but what we now know... the early years, right after retirement were good years for interest income. Though we were not into the stock market, our savings grew enough to span the 9 years before Social Security. In other words, savings increased more over the first 9 years of retirement than over the next 17 years...

So...not a planning factor, and not in the spirit of the original question, but a matter of what happened. Had it gone the other way...

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Old 09-06-2015, 04:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Senator View Post
How much earlier would you have left?
I would have gone into contract work, bought a smaller house, kept lower overhead and just worked part of the year from day one post college.
Even clouds seem bright and breezy, 'Cause the livin' is free and easy, See the rat race in a new way, Like you're wakin' up to a new day (Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether lyrics, Alan Parsons Project, based on an EA Poe story)
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Old 09-06-2015, 06:45 PM   #16
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I was FI at least 5 years before I actually retired but I wanted a bigger cash cushion. So once I was FI, I "set a date" and planned to work a few more years. Once I hit that date I fell into the OMY syndrome (twice). The extra cash was (is) great but looking back I wish I would have left about one year earlier. I would gladly give back my last years salary for that "younger" year to live again.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:41 PM   #17
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I'm leaving in spring just before my 54th B-day...I would have preferred to leave a few years earlier but the pension penalty (fed govt.) would have been too punishing. I only made a modest salary, so I have no real regrets as I knew all along that I'd never have the bankroll to retire early. But I have led a frugal lifestyle and will be very comfortable.

Sadly, a couple of my co-workers are mid-60's and financially unable to retire in spite of a generous COL pension. One of them has expressed regret over the poor choices her and her spouse have made that left them both still working.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:45 PM   #18
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Since I retired at a pretty early 45 yrs old, I didn't feel the need to have retired any sooner. I originally planned to retire in my early 50's, late 50's worse case. So I can't complain!

I got fed up with the w*rk BS at only 44, then bailed after OMY. I just couldn't take it any more. The OMY pushed the egg nest from "bare minimum" to "probably OK if things don't get too ugly too soon". Another 2 or 3 yrs would have bought at little mad money for toys like an RV or sailboat, but now, after 6 months of ER, these toys sound like to much w*rk to me.

I'm surprisingly content playing my guitar and checking out local ethnic restaurants with DW. So I guess I retired just at the right time!
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Old 09-06-2015, 08:33 PM   #19
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Retired at 56. While I do not regret not retiring earlier, I feel so lucky I retired when I did! Funny thing was that I "planned" to work another six years. Then, one evening at a school event, the husband of one my library volunteers talked to me about not working too long. He regretted waiting as long as he did to retire. And, his words and points were heartfelt and made me sit up and listen.

I thought of that convo a lot over the next year or so. And, then, DH retired and was having too much fun.....

No coincidences in all of that--for which I am grateful...because I easily might still be working today.

(I did take a 2 day-week job last year but that is working out just fine, so far). If they offered me the same position at 2.5 days/week, I'd probably say no. ; )
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:34 AM   #20
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I retired at 45, not miserable but felt I lost "my fastball" and felt the job was too important not to have a highly motivated person in the position. Of course a nice pension can help hasten the retirement....The genetic DNA wasn't passed on well from my dad. He retired just a couple years ago at 75 after his body had broken down too much. He said he would rather be dead than not work. Fortunately he has came around a bit to accept his retirement fate and has almost learned how to be lazy and unproductive.

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